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Brodkorb threatens to depose women, out Capitol affairs

Michael Brodkorb

Talk about inevitable … The AP is saying: “A fired Minnesota Senate GOP staffer is threatening to expose adulterous affairs by other legislators as part of a potential lawsuit over his firing, according to a document made public Thursday. Michael Brodkorb’s legal strategy was laid out in a ‘notice of claims’ document his attorneys filed with the state Tuesday. … ‘He intends to depose all of the female legislative staff employees who participated in intimate relationships, as well as the legislators who were party to those intimate relationships, in support of his claims of gender discrimination,’ the notice said. The notice did not say how many female staffers Brodkorb believes had affairs with male legislators. Brodkorb is demanding more than $500,000 in damages, the notice said. It also threatens invasion-of-privacy claims against three former members of the Senate GOP leadership and a current and former Senate staffer.”

Over at the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes: “Brodkorb’s legal team is prepared to dig deep into the romantic lives of legislators and staffers. … His attorney, Phil Villaume, said that those depositions would be done in private to protect the identity of those involved. Vallaume said the depositions were not a threat but a legal necessity. … Long a GOP insider, Brodkorb made his mark in politics by digging up sometimes unflattering information on rivals, usually Democrats. … he may still sue Senators Geoff Michel, David Hann, Chris Gerlach, former chief of staff Cullen Sheehan and committee administrator Aaron Cocking. All were said to have knowledge of Brodkorb’s relationship with Koch or were involved in the events surrounding Brodkorb’s dismissal.” And he of theirs or others …

The soap-opera spectacle of a down-in-the-mud conservative political operator complaining that he was a victim of gender bias and threatening to out others, likely of a similar conservative stripe, has the usual suspects pulling up ringside seats. Aaron Rupar of City Pages posts from the likes of our David Brauer, Fox9’s Tom Lyden and others. He writes, “Wouldn’t it be the irony of ironies if one of the MNGOP’s most notorious operatives ends up being a big reason Republicans lose control of the legislature in November? Stay tuned for the next installment of How the Brodkorb Turns.”

That transparency in government thing isn’t working out so well for our fine neighbors to the east. Says Meg Jones in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Nine months after lawmakers passed a budget that included a provision to create a website showing state government expenditures of $100 or more, the information is not easily available to anyone with access to a computer. That’s why the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group has given Wisconsin a D-minus grade in its annual report on transparency of government spending. … The study found Wisconsin is the 10th-worst state in the nation for providing information about where and how state money is spent. Several states, including Texas, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, provide checkbook-level data, so anyone can look at expenditures, tax credits and subsidies like a checkbook. Last year Wisconsin earned a D-plus. The state dropped this year because its online checkbook is difficult to use, lacks information and lags behind other states. … Gov. Scott Walker campaigned on making government spending more transparent, but even though a provision was included in the current budget passed in June, the Department of Administration hasn’t followed through.” If you don’t know where it went, you don’t know if “it’s working.”

The president of Iraq is at the Mayo Clinic for a routine checkup. The Post-Bulletin story, by Jeff Kiger, says: “Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Rochester this week to see doctors at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Spokesman Bryan Anderson confirmed this morning that Talabani is here for ‘routine medical appointments.’ … On Tuesday, international media sources were reporting that Talabani’s personal doctor was saying that the checkups, which had followed surgery in Germany, had gone well. He was quoted as describing the Iraqi president’s  health as ‘good and stable.’ … In the fall of 2009, he traveled here for a medical visit, and he underwent a reportedly successful heart surgery at the clinic in August 2008. The condition of the president’s health has long been a controversial issue in Iraq. In 2008, officials suggested he was being treated for a bad knee. Eventually, it was confirmed that he had undergone heart surgery here.”

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GOP Rep. John Kriesel has had enough. Says Dennis Lien in the PiPress: “Kriesel, a Cottage Grove Republican, announced Thursday … he will not seek reelection to the Minnesota House in the fall. Kriesel, 30, made the announcement in a letter to his colleagues. An Iraq War veteran who lost his legs in a roadside bomb explosion, the first-term legislator cited the strain of balancing work and family for the decision. ‘My military career was very tough on my family, and while being a State Representative pales in comparison, it still causes additional strain at home,’ he said in a news release.”

Five big local companies have made an international list of “most ethical” companies. Says Tom Webb in the PiPress: “Target, Best Buy, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Mosaic and Ecolab all were selected by Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank on ethical issues. … The ranking is based on a variety of factors, including a corporation’s record of charitable giving, its compliance with written ethical standards, its legal and ethical track record and its supply chain oversight.”

When he writes his memoir, it’ll be very interesting to learn what Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak really thinks of his position in the Vikings stadium slog. But he’s playing his role. Today he debated Art Rolnick on the propriety of using (a lot of) public funds to subsidize a private enterprise. From MPR’s website: “Rybak promoted his city’s Vikings stadium proposal as a way to create jobs in the hospitality and construction industries during a debate on MPR’s Morning Edition with economist Art Rolnick, who argued the Vikings are resorting to ‘economic blackmail’ to force the city to prioritize sports funding over the needs of low-income residents. ‘I think we get a little bit snobbish about where people are working,’ Rybak said. ‘People in this community have become part of the American dream, especially immigrants, because the hospitality industry has given them an opening, and I will fight hard to invest in the hospitality industry.’
[Cathy] Wurzer: The Vikings are going to be there for just a few games, but really in essence they’re saying to you and to the state, ‘Look, we want to be more profitable. That’s why we want a new stadium.’ So you’re helping some very wealthy people already become wealthier, aren’t you?
Rybak: Well, I understand that, and look, I’m not a big fan of sports funding at all, but for the public right now, when you look at it, I believe that’s a good investment for a couple reasons. Number one, the funding stream we have here is existing hospitality taxes and what’s the best way to reinvest those hospitality taxes. If we could reinvest them in any of the other things that Art and I care more about, early childhood or anything else, that would be great. The legislature won’t let us do that. So under those options that we’ve got right now, I think this is a smart investment because we are using hospitality taxes for a billion-dollar investment in a hospitality industry that has a billion-dollar payroll in this community.
Wurzer: Art Rolnick, the Vikings … are a statewide asset. Jobs are generated. The economy of Minneapolis is bolstered on game days. Why not put up some public money for a new stadium?
Art Rolnick: Well, of course all good companies create jobs and are an asset to the Twin Cities, to Minnesota. We have twenty Fortune 500 companies, some of the best companies in the world. If you really go down that road, you have to ask yourself, ‘Well, which companies do we subsidize?’ But let me put this in a bigger perspective for you. This isn’t just about sports teams. We have had what we’ve dubbed an economic bidding war in this country for decades where one private company pits one state off against another. It puts our local politicians in a very difficult position. You don’t want to lose a 3M. You don’t want to lose the Vikings. You don’t want to lose General Mills … Now what you have to do finally when you’re faced with this as a local politician, you have to ask your question: Should we be subsidizing a private business? Now the mayor says it isn’t private (and) we’re going to own it publicly. Well, we already have a stadium, which is just fine. We just put on a new roof. There is absolutely no compelling reason to give the Vikings a dime if they weren’t threatening to leave. I suspect this is a bit of a bluff. I don’t know that for sure, but if we knew that for sure, the economics, the public nature of this, there’s virtually no argument I can see that would warrant a dime for the Vikings if we knew they wouldn’t leave. So let’s make it clear. This is really economic blackmail. These teams are going to come back to us every five years or so, and they’re going to want more. These are public dollars that should be used for education, for reducing crime, for reducing pollution, for building our infrastructure’.”

Dang, but I love a fervid spin. Over at True North, the local conservative site, Luke Matthews sees Congressman Keith Ellison, Mark Ritchie and other liberals keeping the marginalized … marginalized: “Ellison’s argument that requiring a state-issued photo ID somehow robs a person of their vote is absurd. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. The requirement for an ID is coupled with something very empowering; having identification.  This is a great thing that gives people the ability to do things in our society they otherwise couldn’t. They can cash a check, buy cold medicine, and a thousand other things they couldn’t do before. It is a powerful tool we are enabling our most needful to get. … This is fantastic. This means people who are otherwise without state-issued ID have a way to get it. This allows them to have richer, more independent lives. … In fact, the Star Tribune and the Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are too. They apparently don’t want to empower the poorest and most needy citizens of this state with photo ID’s. In an editorial, “A smart alternative to photo ID effort,” they argue we shouldn’t give these people photo ID’s but should instead use electronic poll books.  Huh?  How will that help people?  ‘Recommended by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other DFLers, the electronic poll books would bring drivers’ licenses and ID photos that are already on file with the state into databases for use at each voting precinct. That kind of system would make most voters easy to identify and could be set up to accept college IDs and take on-the-spot-photos when needed’ … So, it wouldn’t give people photo ID’s they could use in their real lives. It would create a database of images that somehow verify voters but wouldn’t give people their own tool. It’s absurd. This is supposed to eliminate fraud and spread access to the franchise of voting? Utter nonsense.” … Took the words right out of my mouth.

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Comments (23)

  1. Submitted by Walt Cygan on 03/15/2012 - 02:37 pm.

    Luke Matthews

    So a conservative is advocating that the MN government require an action by a citizen because it would be for his or her own good. fzzzzzzzt! (sound of head spinning). Sounds like socialism to me.

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 03/15/2012 - 04:46 pm.

      Also overlooks something

      Apparently the new line on the right is Democrats are getting in the way of people getting IDs, like requiring photo IDs will magically make them appear in everyone’s wallet. If people could get IDs now, they probably would. Instead, in every state where Republicans have implemented photo ID, they made the IDs harder to get, not easier. The DFL wants to stop the GOP from disenfranchising the poor, the elderly, disabled, anyone who has trouble getting IDs. Electronic poll books would do that. It doesn’t solve any current problem, but it would solve the problem of being disenfranchised by the lack of an ID. Republicans seem unwilling to accept it, which isn’t surprising since they see disenfranchisement as a feature rather than a bug.

  2. Submitted by Walt Cygan on 03/15/2012 - 02:40 pm.


    How does Brodkorb know who “ALL” the women are? Wow! That guy is connected.

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 03/15/2012 - 04:41 pm.

      it’s what he does

      Brodkorb made his name as an opposition researcher. Digging up the private dirt is what he does. It’s why the senate GOP hired him and why he was high up in the state party. The GOP knew who he was, and that’s why they wanted him. I bet he does know who had affairs with whom and his silence won’t be cheap.

      • Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 03/16/2012 - 09:18 am.

        And because Brodkorb’s taking the low road

        any Republican retiring this year will have to put up with rumors about skeletons in their closet.

        Of course, the really fun part will be the legislative media bullpens where “reporters” will boast about already knowing all the names on Brodkorb’s list.

  3. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 03/15/2012 - 02:51 pm.

    Seems like it says a lot about GOP party finances, and the pocketbooks of their supporters (Bill Cooper, anyone?) that no one has stepped forward to pay him off. Looks like they’re willing to endures a lot of political pain to avoid stepping up to the plate with an amount, for those guys, that seems like pocket change.

  4. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/15/2012 - 02:54 pm.

    Legal necessity

    Sounds more like blackmail. Brodkorb got caught, and so he’s gonna tattle on the others, though if they give him half a million up front…

  5. Submitted by Josh Lease on 03/15/2012 - 03:10 pm.


    Sigh. I could hope you’re being sarcastic with that last comment, but I doubt it. So let’s try it again.

    1. There is no wide-spread or systemic voter fraud in MN
    2. A state-issued photo ID requirement would not stop the most common instance of improper voting, which is felons voting that have not had the franchise restored.
    3. Even if the ID itself were issued free of charge, there are significant barriers to getting one for many people, both in cost and time.
    4. Driving and check-cashing are not rights. Voting is. You do not put up barriers to rights unless there is a compelling reason to do so. A poorly designed solution to a non-problem is not a compelling reason to put up barriers to citizens exercising their rights.
    5. The condescending rationale expressed here still doesn’t apply to college students, the elderly, etc. who would still face barriers to voting: where’s their great benefit?

    The electronic pollbook option would do a better job of cracking down on voter impersonation (which happens extremely rarely to begin with), would improve confidence in the system, would allow the state to stay on the cutting edge while continuing to give it flexibility to respond to changes, and wouldn’t create any real barriers to voting on the voter. The burden remains where it belongs: on the state.

    the proposed voter ID requirement amendment is nothing more than a partisan attempt to reduce voting amongst disfavored groups. It’s unnecessary and shameful, and no gussied up rhetoric around “empowerment” changes that.

  6. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/15/2012 - 03:31 pm.

    Mr. Matthews

    Since when is the voter ID issue about helping people get an identity (or and identity card)? It’s not. It’s not about benevolently giving people who would otherwise not have an ID card an ID card. It’s not about lifting people out of obscurity and supposed helplessness. It’s about voting.

    And even if it was about giving away ID cards to those poor people who languish without them, just how do you propose to get them to and from the government center that issues them? Are YOU going to taxi all those people to the DMV or government building during business hours? Are YOU going to hold the doors open to the government building if their jobs don’t allow them to skip out to get an ID? Are YOU going to pay the extra cost for those government buildings to stay open, staffed, and secured while people stream in after normal hours after work, to /finally/ find their sense of identity at the DMV? Or are YOU going to pay for their time off while they stand in line with all the other people anxiously awaiting their otherwise-missing sense of purpose and meaning that can only be had with a laminated and poorly lit picture of themselves?

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/15/2012 - 03:33 pm.


    My irony meter just broke. Mr. right-wing, in-your-face, “family values” wants half a million dollars because he believes he’s a victim of *gender discrimination?* The needle on my meter spun around several times, then there was an anguished shriek of tortured metal as it fell apart.

    Second, that circular firing squad that appeared to be limited to the Republican presidential race seems to have had some unforeseen influence here in Minnesota. The state GOP is going to have a hard(er) time convincing independent voters that Republican candidates deserve their votes. And, if Mr. Brodkorb really *does* blow the lid off of numerous legislative shenanigans similar to his own, the political cost might well be substantial, indeed. It looks like pistols at 7 paces instead of 10, which greatly increases the odds of casualties…

    Yes, the shark fins are circling in the media waters already… Wonder how this will play out on local Fox News?

  8. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 03/15/2012 - 03:47 pm.

    I’m getting worried…

    ….with all these legislators sleeping with staffers, it’s almost like marriage is no longer a sacred institution in need of constitutional protection.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 03/15/2012 - 04:20 pm.

      No –

      You have to remember only same sex affairs are bad? Or is it only contraception that is bad? Changes daily.

  9. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 03/15/2012 - 04:54 pm.

    Why didn’t the mayor bring up the public uses?

    It’s not just the jobs that justify money to keep a private business, even a major league sports franchise. The Dome gets a lot of public use and the new stadium will too, or even more if it’s built right. There are only 10 Vikings games, but the Dome is busy place, mostly with college, high school, and amateur sports leagues keeping the place in frequent use. During the Winter there’s long distance running and RollerDome. The stadium proposal has a large plaza which will be essentially a public park. Those public uses are what justify the money. If it was just going to host 10 football games and then sit dark, I’d be against it too.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/15/2012 - 05:52 pm.

      If you Heard the Entire Piece this Morning on MPR

      The Mayor DID stress public uses of any new stadium that might be built.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 03/15/2012 - 07:46 pm.

      Use of the Dome

      I’m sure you’re correct about the use of the dome for non-football events. And creative minds can find even more ways to productively use a new stadium. But I seriously doubt that our high school tournaments and rollerbladers will move to LA if we don’t build a new stadium.

      A new stadium will almost certainly get us a Superbowl in the next 10 years (though I’m not sure who gets the Superbowl revenues) and a few big events that could not be hosted at xcel, Target Field, Target Center, or the U. But non-football events cannot justify the public cost (initial and ongoing) for a new stadium.

      The stadium will provide benefits other than football, but it’s extremely inefficient in that respect. The lion’s share of the public contribution has to be justified on the somewhat intangible benefits that having a local football team brings to the community.

  10. Submitted by Joe Musich on 03/15/2012 - 05:09 pm.

    Where is the right

    Just wondering where the regular right wing despndents opps respondents are on this the broadkorb thingy opps again !

  11. Submitted by Robley Henry on 03/15/2012 - 05:39 pm.

    Voter ID requirement a poll tax?

    Unless the State of Minnesota is going to distribute free IDs, it sounds like a poll tax to me. Wasn’t that banned by the US Supreme Court several decades ago? And this is sponsored by the “no new taxes” party?

    • Submitted by Max Hailperin on 03/16/2012 - 05:45 am.

      Yes, but…

      Yes, that much is settled law. Even the advocates admit that they need to need to provide “free” IDs to pas constitutional muster, which is where they get the ammunition for their entirely bogus claim to be providing disadvantaged people with IDs useful in the rest of their lives. (See my comment elsewhere for why this is bogus.) Because they recognize this legal reality, the currently proposed constitutional amendment, as well as the legislation that was passed last session, make this provision for issuing IDs at no charge.

      But, its important to recognize that these IDs are not truly free. And I don’t just mean they are paid for by the taxpayers (per the wishes of the anti-spending party). I mean that the recipients have to first have paid for such things as a copy of a birth certificate, a copy of a marriage license showing a name change, plus perhaps incidentals such as time off work, transportation to the appropriate office, etc.

      Last year an amendment was offered in the legislature that would have required the state to also reimburse expenses incurred getting supporting documentation, and that was killed off by the bill’s proponents.

  12. Submitted by Nick Coleman on 03/15/2012 - 05:45 pm.

    Brodkorb is right — but Amy Koch is the victim

  13. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/15/2012 - 05:51 pm.

    Mr. Brodkorb is Just Doing What Republicans Do

    Seeking to use the resources in the government coffers (and the government’s borrowing authority, if necessary) to pad his own pockets.

    Democrats, on the other hand, seek to use the resources in the government coffers to help those actually in need of and deserving of help.

    It amazes me that some of the good folks, here, are completely blind to and completely incapable of discerning the difference.

    Meanwhile, I’m reminded of an old aphorism…

    Hell hath no fury like a [Republican dirty tricks operative] scorned.

  14. Submitted by James Hamilton on 03/15/2012 - 07:36 pm.

    It may not be blackmail

    but there was no need for Brodkorb’s notice to include any reference to those whom his attorneys intend to depose. It’s completely irrelevent at this stage. The claim that the depositions will be private is equally suspect; if I recall correctly, Minnesota courts have held that deposition transcripts are public records. We can count on the media to push for their release from day one.

  15. Submitted by Max Hailperin on 03/16/2012 - 05:39 am.

    “Free” photo ID couldn’t be used elsewhere

    Last year’s bill, passed by the legislature, is the best guide we have as to what enacting legislation would look like.

    That bill stipulated that the “free” ID cards “may be used as identification and proof of residence for election day voter registration and for voting on election day, but for no other purpose.” (S.F. 509, Article 1, Section 3).

    Even back then, when the specific language was before the legislature (rather than only a vague constitutional amendment), the advocates were making the same bogus claim that we were going to be giving the disadvantaged the wonderful gift of an ID card that they could use in their normal lives.

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